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Who Is Mark Shea Talking About?

10/19/2010 Comments (256)

After several posts by Mark Shea on the subject of “conservatism”, I must admit I don’t like those conservative Catholics very much.  Anyway, at least how Mark Shea describes them.  Fortunately, I haven’t met very many who fit Mark’s description.  And I think I would have run into them, for I am a conservative Catholic.

I won’t go point for point with Mark on this as he has so many points it would be rather pointless.  A snippet then.  Mark says things like:

But when alleged conservative Catholics tell me that they would rather get their social teaching from a talking hairdo on FOX than from the bishops, when they tell me that it is “moralistic” not to be willing to put your soul at risk of the fires of hell by committing what used to be called “war crimes”, when they make excuses for buffoons who think saluting the brave idealists of the Waffen SS with their sons is a sure fire indication of sound judgment—and that any criticism of this makes one vehemently suspect of heresy and a traitor to the Faith—I can only say that the Right is becoming as mindlessly ideological as the Left.  And ideology is not the Faith.

So Catholics who also call themselves Catholic willingly admit that they would rather get their social teaching from “a talking hairdo on FOX.”  Truth is, I don’t know these people.  I know lots and lots of Catholics of a conservative political bent, and I don’t know anyone who puts Glenn Beck or any other host ahead of the Bishops.  Not one.

Now obviously there are kooks out there I can’t speak for every person who call himself Catholic conservative (neither can Mark btw), but that is not any of the Catholic conservatives I know.  Glenn Beck is an entertainer, not a conservative leader.  No matter how many times Mark or anyone else asserts that Glenn Beck is the defacto leader and philosopher of conservatives, it will still be no more true than saying Keith Olberman is the defacto leader of liberals.  Sure, it is much easier to criticize people when you get to appoint their leaders, but it isn’t exactly fair play.

The conservatives I know, like me, have struggled with issues surrounding war and peace, terrorism and security.  These are tough questions.  But I, like many other conservative Catholics, put the Church’s teaching first.  Might others not?  I am sure.  But again, I haven’t met many.

Mark then covers a lot of wall space with his broad brush.  You see there is this guy who calls himself a tea-partier and he likes to dress in a Waffen SS uniform and he also said some really stupid stuff.  AND.  AND.  Three “conservative” guys in the combox defended the guy.  Ipso facto.  All tea-partiers and conservatives are just as crazy as these guys.  It all follows, right?  We all know the combox is representative of the public at large, right?  As Ray Bolger would say “Umm?  Dude.  That’s a straw man”

Anyway.  Point is, I sometimes grow weary of the broad brush and using combox kooks to prove your point.  It really doesn’t.  Really.

But I don’t intend to just criticize.  I want to help.  So I think some introductions are in order.

My name is Patrick.  I am a Catholic.  I call myself a conservative.  I put my Church first and my party about 108th.  I prefer small government because I believe it protects our God given liberties, including our religious liberties, best.  I believe in the Constitution.  Not because it is a document handed on from on high but because it was written by men who understood what dastardly deeds of which men with power are capable.  Moreover, I support the Constitution because it is the arrangement to which we all agreed.  Until that changes, it should still apply, no?

I believe in free enterprise, not because I hate poor people, but because I think that it offers the best chance at prosperity for the most people.  Does it eliminate inequity?  Surely not.  However, all the other systems I have seen tried produce even more inequity or even worse.  So free enterprise seems like the best idea.

I believe in a strong defense, but a strong defense that never subjugates the dignity of any individual to a greater good.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  No way.  No how.

I don’t watch Glenn Beck and I can’t watch Bill O’Reilly for fear of throwing something at my television.  I think Newt Gingrich is sometimes a smart guy, but I am likely to disagree with him as much as agree.  Truth is, he hasn’t been very popular among my crowd for a while.  I like the tea party and identify with many of their concerns.  But I don’t endorse every thing that every tea party person says or does.  That would be silly.  I can do nuance.  And there are a lot of people just like me.

Now I know I don’t speak for everyone, but I know I speak for many.

I am a Catholic.

I call myself a conservative.

Nice to meet you Mark.  We should meet for lunch.  I will be the one in the Waffen SS uniform.

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About Pat Archbold

Pat Archbold
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Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company. Patrick, his wife Terri, and their five children reside in Long Island, N.Y.